Chapter 7 Mapping civil society
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Mapping civil society seeks to count, classify and define organized civil society. While several actors can be considered mapmakers (e.g., governments, research communities, donors and civil organizations themselves), this chapter focuses on governments and research communities as they seem to be increasingly overlapping in practice. Maps, and particularly maps derived from government-collected data, create symbolic contours that often miss or revise key features of civil society organizing, and can put at risk the rights and values of freedoms of association, expression and speech. However, still there seems to be an assumption and bias that 'mapping' is inherently good for society, government and academia. I raise concerns that by standardizing, measuring and registering, governments make subjects (here, units of civil society, usually organizations) more legible and easier to manage, regulate and discipline. For academics, mapping helps to legitimize the sector and thereby their areas of research, and the academic field tends to demonstrate uncritical support for mapping efforts.